Filmmaker Russell Brown brings gratitude to local film festival
It's a rainy Saturday night in downtown Adrian, some patrons have relocated themselves under the main headquarters tent to get away from the drizzle, but something happens – the sun comes out, and glistens over the beautiful and historic buildings.
While a day of films has already proceeded into the evening, that hasn't stopped Hollywood native and writer/director - the helmer of festival favorite “Search Engines” - Russell Brown from taking in the sights. “It's so beautiful here” he recalls, having just flown in from L.A. hours before. You can tell he is in awe of Adrian, because he can't stop asking questions, “How old is that building?” as he points to Diamond Jim’s, one of Adrian's finest establishments “or that one,” now pointing to the newly renovated armory downtown. “I've been to Michigan twice before, in the winter and it's addicting. A big change, climate wise, from the heat of Los Angeles.”
While the plan was to have a 'formal' interview, you know the kind where the interviewer asks a few questions, we move on, shake hands, discuss only the movie, and our time ends. But not with Russell, he sat down and made himself right at home and over the course of two hours, we talked about everything from his early days in Hollywood, what it was like making “Search Engines” and where he plans to go next.
“I went to film school to become a critic” he details under the main headquarters tent with his luggage in hand. But concedes, that didn't exactly pan out “I was working for a Zine, a term before your time, prior to getting involved with development on SNL, and then I made the jump to making feature films.”
Brown's feature “Search Engines,” - which details a family Thanksgiving gone amok after the WIFI network crashes, forcing the family to (gasp!) communicate with each other - was a big hit at the Adrain International Film Festival, and it took home the prize for 'Best Feature' among the others in competition. “I wanted to make something I've never seen before” Brown details of why he choose to make “Engines,” “the script is really true to how I envisioned it, and I'm glad people have embraced the message.”
A message that seems all too relatable with anyone that owns a cell phone.
“We're all so invested in technology, that it made sense for me to write this story” Brown recalls “I'm guilty of being glued to my phone, while being in the middle of a conversation.”
Brown caught the attention of Hollywood when he premiered “Mama Laura's Boys” at the Tribeca film festival in 2003. and then again with “Annie and the Gypsy” in 2012 that starred Hollywood icon Cybill Shepherd “Those films really opened a-lot of doors for me professionally. And it really helps when someone like [Shepherd] wants to be in your movie and work with you again.”
That's not the only big name he's rubbed shoulders with. Brown's filmography includes works with hundreds of showbiz biggest stars. “For smaller budget films like Engines, it really depends on the script, and how much time the bigger named actors are willing to devote for an indie film. It's always good to attach a name early, as it'll help sell your film to producers and secure distribution.”
And even though “Search Engines” made it's festival run in 2016, he was extremely grateful to screen the film again. “Everyone involved with the Adrian festival was so nice and caring, I could really see they were serious about this” Brown said of his decision to attend the festival “I didn't know if I was going to be able to make it, but after talking to Micheal [founder of the festival] I could tell everyone's heart was in the right place.”
His next film, the short documentary “The Kaleidoscope Guy at the Market” is set to premiere at a few film festivals within the next year, and hopes to 'potentially' bring it to Adrian for the second go around in 2019. “I'd love to come back, everyone's been so welcoming, I'm grateful to be here. I've been to some disastrous film festivals, where the coordinators didn't take proper care of my film. I was sitting in the audience and the movie skipped every two minutes. I went on stage after for a Q and A and told the crowd they should get their money back!”
You'll be happy to know, “Search Engines” went off without a hitch or scratch.
“Search Engines” is available on I-Tunes, Amazon, and various on-demand services.